In the most provincial village in Germany centuries ago and the most sophisticated cities in the U.S. today the key to survival was and is the ability to sell. The grocer had to unload that perishable merchandise. The Manhattan developer has to rent out that commercial real estate.
Yet most members of the Class of 2014 are entering a Dickensian type of economy clueless about how to sell themselves to employers, temp agencies and investors for their startups.
Way back in the 1970s, that then new book "What Color Is Your Parachute?" hammered that the person who gets the job is not necessarily the most qualified. No, the winner is the person who sells himself or herself the best to those hiring. The same is true in self-employment. Better ghostwriters and speechwriters have missed out on assignments I got. I know how to sell.
In the worst of times when the fallout from Enron, then 9/11 deciminated the market for my services, I ponied up the money for a Dale Carnegie sales seminar in Hartford, Connecticut. Taught by Michael Francoeur, the class entailed going out there immediately and applying the lessons. I had to get out of my head and off my butt and pitch to real people.
In the process I leveraged what was going to be for me the tipping point in closing: Learning how to get in and out fast. Prospects didn't want the relationship or to be introduced to my stimulating personality. They wanted to find out, in the briefest amount of time with the fewest words, about a service which would help their own marketing, including their brand.
Well, the short version is that I got in and out fast enough often enough to re-build my communications boutique. The rest is history. Some of my colleagues wonder how I am taking the risk now to relocate my business to the Southwest. I roll my eyes. If you know how to sell, you will never be without work.
Parents of the Class of 2014 should forget about gifts like cars and trips to China. Instead present this new generation with a course in selling. That will last them a career.